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In a surreal moment at Tuesday’s joint-press conference, President Barack Obama addressed the unrest in Baltimore by lamenting the effects of poverty in America’s inner cities which was then immediately followed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pronouncing his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement destined to exacerbate poverty in America.

President Obama noted that the problem of poverty had to be an integral part of any discussion about the situation in Baltimore and that creating economic opportunities was part of the solution. Obama even went on to cite the destruction of America’s manufacturing base as one of the culprits for stagnation and despair.

All this while pushing TPP:

And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college.

In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem. And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.

All solid points which make the TPP support even more unusual given that economists have said it will do little to nothing to create new jobs while allowing corporations greater power to outsource existing jobs later. TPP will lead to the NAFTA scenario of companies shifting manufacturing to countries out of the country, what one prophetic commentator once called a “giant sucking sound.”

President Obama’s lamentations on poverty might be taken more seriously if he was not actively working to impoverish more Americans. Obama has defended TPP as “the most progressive trade deal in history” and, much like the White House’s “most transparent administration in history” claim, it sets a low bar and fails to meet it.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.